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Firms make sharp cuts in retiree health care plans; retirees asked to share costs
Area manufacturers are done thinking about ways to cut retiree health care costs. They're chopping away.
At company after company, management is canceling old retiree health care programs, some of which included full lifetime health care benefits. Taking their place are new cost-sharing plans.
Union representative report that retiree health benefits are management's high-priority issue for negotiations in almost all contracts.
"All of them are doing it," said Jack Cole, an international representative with United Auto Workers. "Everybody's got the same problem -- lifetime benefits."
Among companies that have altered retiree health care benefits the past two years are Briggs & Stratton Corp., Wauwatosa; W.H. Brady Co., Glendale; Modine Manufacturing Co., Racine; JI Case Co., Racine; A.O. Smith Corp., Milwaukee; and Allen-Bradley Co., Milwaukee.
This year, retirees from the salaried ranks at Delco Electronics and AC Rochester, both in Oak Creek, paid for some health care costs under General Motors Corp.'s health plan. Union retirees may be asked to contribute next year when the UAW negotiates a new GM contract.
Companies that are weighing or negotiating changes include Johnson Controls Inc.'s …